The church was just a small metal sided building with large “windows” (open holes) running down both sides of the buildings. The floor was concrete and a row of 8 small benches lined each side of the church. All the males sat on one side and the females on the other. Three people with guitars led music at the front and the worship leaders sang heartily off key. An old lady sang in the high, piercing, tone so common to the village. 5 multi hundred dollar flower arrangements brightened the front, all picked and arranged for free that morning from neighbors yards.
The sweltering heat and extreme humidity made sweat slowly run down faces and all skin has a damp feel. Body oder is mixed with occasional puffs of hot breeze that finds it’s way through the windows. Swallows dance in and out of the building. A throbbing base beat is heard from a nearby bar where people are still celebrating last night.
Then the singing is done and we sit down to listen to the preacher deliver a good, 45 minute sermon. The wooden plank bench quickly becomes uncomfortable and my knees are jammed in the back of the rough wood in front of me. Some people sit on the concrete floor, not because there is no room on the benches, but because it is more comfortable. And then, the 2 hour service is done.
As I think about the sweltering heat, bad singing, distractions, and sore backside, I realize that all those things are external, and God heard the sweet refrains of worship joining with the 1000’s of similar churches in Papua New Guinea creating a symphony of adoration and praise. I couldn’t have been in a better place this morning.